Agusan del Sur vice governor defends gov’t peace panel
DAVAO CITY – Agusan del Sur Vice Gov. Santiago Cane Jr. on Thursday took up the cudgels for members of the government panel – who were charged with treason and inciting to sedition before a Manila court – in the peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
Reacting sharply to the complaints filed by Buhay Representative Jose “Lito” Atienza, Abakada Representative Jonathan dela Cruz and lawyer Jeremy Gatdula, Cane said “coming up with a peace proposal such as the Bangsamoro Basic Law could not be inciting to sedition.”
“Why? If the members of the peace panel came up with peace proposal (such as the BBL), is that inciting to sedition? It is a mere proposal that the Congress has to scrutinize and pass it into law,” he said.
Cane said those who filed the case against government chief negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer; former peace panel chair Marvic Leonen – now an associate Supreme Court justice; Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles and several others were grossly ignorant of peace processes.
“To those who accuse the panel members of inciting to sedition, I accuse you of gross ignorance and cowardice,” he said.
Cane also challenged Atienza and the other complainants to get involved in negotiations “with adversaries and let’s see if you will not change colors.”
He expressed fear that if suing negotiators becomes a trend, no one will be willing to talk peace with rebels anymore.
The government has also tried forging a settlement with the communists but negotiations were stalled because of serious disagreements over issues.
In an open letter to Atienza, former Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Assemblyman Samira Gutoc said the filing of the case, which was aimed at blocking the BBL, was “precisely why there are rebels.”
She said Atienza and the other complainants did not understand how it was to be persecuted based on ethnicity and identity.
Gutoc said Atienza and the other complainants should instead take up course on Moro history studies so that they will know their history.
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